(Temporomandibular Joint/Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
The health of our jaw joints is extremely important. The jaw joints function like a door on a set of hinges. The hinges (jaw joints) have to be right for the door to work without ruining the frame (the teeth and the chewing muscles). If these joints break down, that can be reflected in a long list of health problems, including but not limited to:
- Airway issues
- Postural issues
- Clicking popping or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Tooth breakdown and tooth loss
- Headaches, stress, tension in the face/neck/shoulders/back
- Aged smiles
- Sore teeth, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, worn teeth
- Gum infections
- Orofacial pain
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clenching/grinding of teeth
As you can see, unhealthy jaw joints certainly lower the quality of life. The ultimate goal for the patient should be maintainable health for the total masticatory system, including the joints, teeth, musculature and surrounding structures. TMJ/TMD leads to BITE DISEASE, which is the most common cause of dental problems, tooth loss, need for extensive restorative dentistry, instability of orthodontic treatment and is the most commonly missed diagnosis leading to unnecessary endodontics, tooth soreness and hypersensitivity.
How is TMJ Disorder treated?
Dr. Dean’s practice is devoted to getting at the cause of any dental problems. We work on building a strong foundation, which is a key to long-term dental health. Dr. Dean has received extensive training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment, including the entire curriculum with the prestigious Dawson Academy, which awarded him with Scholar status in 2013. He is currently Director of the Dawson Academy Study Club Cincinnati, supporting dentists who are learning how to resolve their patients’ TMJ related problems. Dr. Dean treats patients referred from local physicians, cardiologists, patients, general dentists and dental specialists.
All bite analysis starts with the TMJs. If the TMJs are not stable, the bite will change, so it is risky to undertake bite changes without knowing the health of the TMJs. Dr. Dean’s approach to providing TMJ relief is very thorough; determining the cause and effect relationship is key to identifying the problem and the treatment. His primary TMJ therapy often includes bite splints and retainers of various designs to help correct poor bites, decrease stresses at the joint level and reduce muscular hyperactivity, including clenching and grinding habits. This may be followed with bite therapy, including bite balancing (equilibration), orthodontics or restorative treatment as needed. Other modalities of treatment include physical therapy for sore muscles and neck issues as well as evaluating sleep position, posture considerations, biofeedback and hypnotism. Occasionally joint surgery is necessary. Dr Dean approaches each case from the perspective of providing the most conservative treatment possible in order to achieve a peaceful balance in the total masticatory system.
Occasionally short-term medications are necessary to assist as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and sleep aids as they relate to TMJ pain. Prior to beginning each case he uses the axiom “WIDIOM”, which stands for “Would I do it on me?” in order to finalize any planned treatment.
Don’t ignore TMJ symptoms!
If TMJ disorders are left untreated, you may experience increasing chronic pain and discomfort over time. It will increase your risk for any or all of the above listed health problems. If you or someone you know suffers from TMJ disorders, call our office and we will work together to make you more comfortable.